Growing up in Tonga with her grandmother, Kato Ha’unga loved books. She explains, “That was the only thing to expose me beyond the beach to the world outside of Tonga.” After moving to Anchorage, Alaska, for college, Ha’unga started sending books home. But after the 2009 tsunami destroyed the family’s library, she decided to rebuild on a larger scale.
With help from range of organizations, including much of the University of Alaska Anchorage community, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and the U. S. Navy, Ha’unga has made great headway in opening what will be Tonga’s first public library, Northern Lights Library in the Ha‘apai Group. A location has been secured, fifty thousand books donated, and shipping costs covered. Says she, “Grandma never left the island. Through books, me and Grandma could travel. She can see the Eiffel Tower. She sees the Northern Lights of Alaska.”